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DU Letter to the Editor
12 January 2001
Letters to the Editor, Dominion and Evening Post
I welcome the international concern expressed from so many quarters over the health risks from the use of Depleted Uranium weaponry. For too long the military of many countries have had what appears to be unlimited funding for research and development of new weapons of destruction without giving any consideration to their impact on the soldiers and civilians these weapons are being used against.
In this category of weapons that cause excessive injuries are Laser Blinding weapons, anti personnel landmines and landmines that contain 4.7 Kg lethal VX nerve gas, flame throwers as well as DU weaponry. Cluster bombs should also be added to the list because when landing on the ground about 15% of the bomblets do not explode and they then become more lethal than landmines and long after the end of the conflict, they are killing and maiming civilians.
It is interesting to note that the Laser Blinding weapons have now been banned by the United Nations so there has been a lot of money wasted on their research and development.
The United States produced 130,000 MX landmines containing lethal nerve gas in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Fortunately none have been used in conflict and they are now all being destroyed. By the end of last year 400,000 nerve gas and chemical weapons had been destroyed on Johnstone Island in the central Pacific. The cost of setting up this centre and the cost of the destroyed weapons must be enormous. What a waste!
In recent years more than 22 million landmines have been destroyed by more than 50 nations partly in compliance with the Mine Ban Treaty but several hundred million landmines are still to be found in stockpiles. These mines will also be destroyed when the nations holding them eventually sign the Mine Ban Treaty
My call is for governments to exercise greater control on the expenditure of their military so that the research and production of inhumane weapons is stopped.
John Head, CALM New Zealand